The Tom-Tom seems the appropriate place for this letter to APA members from its current president, Katie Kerwin. Neither rant nor rave, it reviews the reasoning behind the APA Board’s unexpected decision to restrict its membership and therefore, its automatic meeting entrée to working automotive journalists or PR persons and related media.
March 10, 2009
Dear APA members,
The Automotive Press Association board has reviewed our membership policy and decided to make some changes based on our mission and bylaws.
• Our mission is to put newsmakers in front of journalists. Our ability to attract the best speakers depends on being able to promise those speakers a room full of influential auto journalists and automotive PR people with a stake in their message. Hosts understand that an APA speech is open to all APA members, so it is in our best interests to ensure that our membership reflects this mission.
Katie Kerwin, President of the Automotive Press Association
• Our bylaws state: “Membership shall consist of persons who are engaged in automotive journalism, public relations activities and other interested media related to the automobile industry.”
After lengthy consideration and the creation of a membership committee to formulate recommendations, the board decided that those guidelines require us to revise our membership admission rules. No one’s membership is being revoked. But if a current member isn’t a working automotive journalist or PR person or interested media (say, an auto analyst, economist or consultant), his or her membership will not be renewed.
This affects our rules for retirees. The bylaws limit membership to working journalists or PR people. Current retiree members are grandfathered in. In the future, when active members retire, their memberships won’t be renewed unless they continue to engage in professional activities related to the industry such as freelancing or consulting.
The clarification of our policy also means that we have lifted the freeze on new members from PR agencies. As before, those firms may have a maximum of four APA members at any time. If one of the four leaves, another qualified agency employee can become a member. There continues to be no limit on memberships for PR staff at automakers and suppliers.
PR membership is restricted to PR professionals and excludes administrative staff and employees of organizations that supply support services to the industry.
With a clear policy, our membership director Mona Richard has concrete rules on which to rely and she has the full confidence of the board in applying them. No board member, including the president, can overrule her decision (so don’t even try going over her head.) A decision can only be reversed by a majority vote of the membership board.
A complete copy of the membership rules will be made available to any member or membership applicant who requests them. If you have questions, please feel free to ask APA President Katie Kerwin or any board member.
As a separate issue, the board would like to remind those who attend our meetings of a few basic rules of courtesy. We ask that you don’t make sales pitches or attempt to recruit clients or advertisers at meetings. Please refrain from loud conversations during presentations and Q&A sessions, and any other disruptive or objectionable behavior.
The board has decided that members or guests who break these rules will get a warning. Those who continue or repeat an offense will lose their membership and be barred from future events.
Lastly, guests are welcome at any event for which the host hasn’t specified a no-guest policy. Please don’t invite or bring a guest when the invitation says no guests. That decision rests with the event’s host, who is footing the bill.